SIAA Freak of the Week: Liam Clifford
Freak is a term thrown around too much in the sports world but sometimes it's the first phrase that crowds the cranium when a gaudy athletic feat takes place.
What about an entire game's worth of head-turning and gasp?
SI All-American continues a salute to these dominant high school football players in a weekly feature, of course titled 'Freak of the Week.'
High school football is well underway in several states and the wild, almost Fantasy sports-type statistical performances are piling in. FOTW candidates can be dominant in the trenches or beyond the numbers, but the numbers are hard to beat this time around.
How's 300 yards sound?
No, not from a quarterback picking apart a defense or a team's total on the ground -- from a single wide receiver in a single-game effort.
Liam Clifford called it Friday night.
The senior Penn State commitment and SI All-American candidate out of Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier High School had all eyes on him from crosstown rival St. Ignatius and it just didn't matter.
12 catches for 300 yards and two touchdowns.
While there were many FOTW nominations this week, Clifford's mark was too much to be passed up on.
"Clifford was asked to do a myriad of things in St. Xavier's offense in both the run and pass, vs. St. Ignatius," SI All-American analyst Edwin Weathersby II said. "Looking at the tape, the first thing that stands out is how he moved around in various alignments. In my charting, Clifford lined up as No. 1, 2 and 3 in various 3x1-trips sets, as a reduced split Z to the field, in the slot, as 3 in bunch to the field, boundary X, and as 2 in 2x2 and 2x1 sets all in this game.
"His route tree consisted of a stop, in which he correctly settled and found a void, a post-corner, deep over, tight sail, slant and bubble-screen/quick-game work. Clifford executed a dino route for a long touchdown in a schemed shot-play, and he ran a standard fade and a big box fade from the slot as well, in which he executed a power skip in his secondary release."
The future Nittany Lion, of course the younger brother of PSU passer Sean Clifford, was able to showcase his polish on the outside all night long in the 62-37 win.
"St. Xavier also schemed Clifford to factor well in its mid-range game," Weathersby said. "Clifford had fair stems in his routes, showing the ability to avoid defenders and discipline to execute his route assignments. He also played with noticeable leap timing, which allowed him to high-point throws and win when challenged at catch points.
"The Penn State commit was also asked to block in the running game from his position on the perimeter, in which he showed a willingness to attack, approach and sustain vs. his target."
Despite the numbers and versatility, Clifford deferred credit on the high-scoring evening to the rest of the offense, including the triggerman.
"I’d have to give credit to my QB Brogan McCaughey," Clifford told SIAA. "He threw for 556 yards and played an incredible game. The O-Line also blocked really great all game long which allowed us to have 700+ yards of offense.
"Other than that I was just doing my best to get open and be in the right spots and catch every ball thrown to me. It was a fun night no doubt."
Check out Clifford's Freak of the Week performance below:
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